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July 5, 2012/For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-770-3337, carpem@uncsa.edu



WINSTON-SALEM – University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) Chancellor John Mauceri announced today that Susan Jaffe, one of the leading ballerinas of our time, will become the next Dean of the UNCSA School of Dance.

For 22 years, Jaffe danced with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), where, after she retired from the stage, she joined the faculty of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She was named a Ballet Mistress with the main company in 2010.

Jaffe has danced on the world’s greatest stages – Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Vienna State Opera House, and London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, to name a few – and with some of the most important dancers of our time, from Mikhail Baryshnikov to former Dean of Dance Ethan Stiefel and current UNCSA faculty member Frank Smith. During the current ABT season at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Jaffe has performed the roles of Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet and the Queen in Swan Lake, opposite UNCSA alumna and principal dancer Gillian Murphy. In addition, Jaffe has worked directly with some of the greatest choreographers of all time, including George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Jerome Robbins, Roland Petit and Twyla Tharp, recipient of a UNCSA honorary doctorate.

“After a two-year search to find the ideal leader of our School of Dance, I am delighted that Susan Jaffe, once declared ‘America’s Quintessential American Ballerina’ by The New York Times, will join UNCSA,” said Chancellor Mauceri. “Her credentials are first-class and world-class. Her experience as a principal dancer, choreographer, and teacher makes her the perfect person to take the helm of our wonderful dance school and guide it to further and future greatness.”

Jaffe begins her tenure as Dean on Aug. 15 and plans to move to Winston-Salem this summer.

Photo by Rosalie O'Connor
Susan Jaffe

Charles C. Lucas, III, chair of the UNCSA Board of Trustees, added: ““The appointment of Susan Jaffe is a remarkable achievement and a game changer for the School of Dance and UNCSA. I am thrilled for UNCSA and cannot wait to welcome Dean Jaffe to campus. Congratulations to Ms. Jaffe and particularly Chancellor Mauceri for this extraordinary appointment.”

Jaffe said, “I am excited to become part of the School of the Arts family. The UNCSA School of Dance has an incredible reputation and track record for alumni placement and achievement in the dance world. Having run my own school, I believe that I’m well prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that we have before us. I am looking forward to being part of John Mauceri’s ‘Team UNCSA.’”

Jaffe will succeed Interim Dance Dean Brenda Daniels, who will become Associate Dean. Daniels holds the Betsy Friday Distinguished Professorship in Contemporary Dance at UNCSA, where she has been on the faculty since 1995 and has been the Assistant Dean for Contemporary Dance since 2004.

“When I met Susan, I felt like I had known her my entire life,” Daniels said. “I know she will do a great job as dean, and am looking forward to having her on board.”



Susan Jaffe was born in Washington, D.C., and began her dance training at the Maryland School of Ballet with Hortensia Fonseca, Elizabeth Statler and Michelle Lees. She later studied on a full scholarship at the School of American Ballet during the summer of 1975, and subsequently as a summer intensive student on scholarship at the American Ballet Theatre School. She performed leading roles with the Maryland Youth Ballet and, in 1978, joined American Ballet Theatre II, ABT's junior troupe.

In 1980, at the invitation of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jaffe joined American Ballet Theatre and became well known in the dance world at an extremely young age. Her debut in Washington, D.C., at the Kennedy Center was made when she was plucked from the corps de ballet for the 1980 opening night season to dance opposite recently defected Alexander Godunov in the pas de deux, Pas d’Esclave, from Le Corsaire. She became a Soloist in 1981 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 1983.

Throughout her career, she received critical praise for her interpretations of such roles as: Odette/Odile (Swan Lake), Kitri (Don Quixote), Nikiya & Gamzatti (La Bayadere), Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Swanhilda (Coppelia), Tatiana (John Cranko’s Eugene Onegin), Kate (Taming of the Shrew), and the title roles in Giselle, La Sylphide, & Kenneth MacMillan’s Anastasia and Manon.

Jaffe’s versatility as a dancer allowed her to tackle a large range of choreographic works, from the classics such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty to the dramatic works of John Cranko and Agnes de Mille. She has worked with and performed the repertoire of many of the 20th century’s most prominent choreographers, including George Balanchine (Apollo, Mozartiana, Who Cares, Theme & Variations, Ballet Imperial, Violin Concerto, La Sonnambula, Bourree Fantasque), Antony Tudor (Jardin aux Lilas, Undertow, Gala Performance, Dim Lustre), Kenneth MacMillan (Manon, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Requiem), Jerome Robbins (Afternoon of a Faun, Other Dances, N.Y. Opus Jazz), Roland Petit (Carmen), Twyla Tharp (Push Comes to Shove, Everlast, Sextet, How Near Heaven, Bach Partita, Americans We, Known By Heart), Nacho Duato (Without Words), Jiri Kilyan (Stepping Stones) and James Kudelka (Cruel World, States of Grace).

Prominent in the international dance scene as well, her European engagements have included performances with The Royal Ballet, The Kirov Ballet, The Stuttgart Ballet, The Munich State Opera Ballet, La Scala Ballet in Milan, The Vienna State Opera Ballet, The Royal Danish Ballet, The Royal Swedish Ballet, and The English National Ballet.

In 2003, Jaffe co-founded the Princeton Dance & Theatre Studio in Princeton, N.J.  As a result of owning a school, she expanded into choreography. Her original creations for the school include The Nutcracker, Pop Sonata, Ballet Studies, Tarantella, Glass Cuts, Carnival of the Animals, and The Cancan. She is also co-founder and co-director of DanceVision and DanceVision Youth Ensemble in Princeton.

Jaffe has choreographed for universities such as Texas Christian University, Princeton University and Goucher College, as well as professional companies such as Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet and Configurations Dance. For the 2010 Gala for Youth America Grand Prix in New York City, she created Sognato, a pas de deux for Isabella Boylston and UNCSA Dance alumnus Blaine Hoven of American Ballet Theatre. And, in 2011, she choreographed We Insist for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre, a ballet later performed by the ABT Studio Company.  In 2012, she created A Tango, a pas de deux choreographed on the ABT Studio Company, and Blue pas de deux, which was performed at the opening night gala of American Ballet Theatre, danced by Veronika Part and Thomas Forster. 

Television appearances have included several "Dance in America" programs and host of "Dance New York," co-produced by Dance Magazine and WNYE-TV Channel 25. Film credits include 1994's ANGIE with Geena Davis and the 1995 documentary BALLET, directed by Frederick Wiseman.

Jaffe has served as adviser to the chairman and president of the Board of Governing Trustees at American Ballet Theatre. She also serves on the board of directors of the Youth America Grand Prix, the world’s largest student ballet competition, and gives master classes throughout the United States and Japan.

Jaffe is author of a children's book, "Becoming a Ballerina,” and has taught corporate lectures on "Excellence" in conjunction with Duke Corporate Education for Lehman Brothers, and PriceWaterHouseCoopers. She holds an Honorary Doctorate from Texas Christian University.

In 2003, she was awarded the coveted Dance Magazine Award.



The appointment of Susan Jaffe continues a longtime relationship with American Ballet Theatre for UNCSA.

The Founding Dean of the School of Dance, Robert Lindgren, danced with ABT (then Ballet Theatre) during its early years, from 1942-43.

Ethan Stiefel, an ABT principal dancer who has danced with Jaffe, served as UNCSA Dance Dean from 2008-2011, before becoming artistic director of The Royal New Zealand Ballet. Stiefel is retiring from American Ballet Theatre this weekend.

Alex Ewing, son of the late Lucia Chase, who danced with and served ABT as artistic director from 1945-1980, served as Interim Dean of the School of Dance in 2007. Ewing also was Chancellor of UNCSA from 1990 to 2000.

Current UNCSA ballet faculty members who are former members of ABT include Warren Conover (who teaches for ABT’s Summer Intensive), Fanchon Cordell and Frank Smith. 

UNCSA alumni at American Ballet Theatre include Principal Dancer Gillian Murphy, Soloist Maria Riccetto and corps de ballet members Julio Bragado-Young, Blaine Hoven, Joseph Phillips, Kelley Potter and Isaac Stappas, as well as ABT Associate Artistic Director and former Principal Dancer, Victor Barbee. Barbee’s wife, Principal Dancer Julie Kent, received an honorary doctorate from UNCSA and spoke at the 2012 high school commencement. ABT Lighting Director Brad Fields is an alumnus of UNCSA School of Design and Production. 

In past years, UNCSA has hosted numerous residencies and performances by the ABT Studio Company.

On June 30, 2011, UNCSA and ABT announced a five-year partnership with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT.



As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972.

World-renowned conductor and educator John Mauceri became Chancellor of UNCSA in 2006. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.